Blessed are they that Mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Thomas a Kempis says “You must suffer somewhat, either willingly or against your will; and so you shall find the Cross.”
If we are unwilling to experience suffering, we can bury ourselves in our own sorrow and lose sight of the fact that suffering is a shared experience. Yes, each of us suffers through different experiences, but suffering itself is a human experience. If we hide, we increase our suffering as we do not allow for remembering that our suffering is a way of connecting, connecting to one another and to the Cross.
If we hide away in our own sorrow, and do not allow ourselves to soften it by sharing or allowing others to comfort us, we close our eyes and may miss the lesson. We may find ourselves doomed to repeat the same mistakes and fall into repetitive suffering. It is a subtle way we inadvertently cling to our suffering.
If we bear suffering willingly, or with as much willingness as we are able, we find ways to allow ourselves to be comforted and to become sources of comfort. This may not make our loss go away, the deepest griefs and sorrows will be a part of us forever, but comfort and compassion softens the edges and clears our vision.
We can look at blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted as a practice in patience. Sorrow will follow us, perhaps since we walked out of the Garden of Eden, but it is a part of the Is-ness of life. Life is an experience of lessons and suffering is where we learn to be stronger, wiser, better healers of hearts and minds, better comforters of one another. Our life is a gift to others.
Suffering teaches us to be Love and Compassion.
Excitement, as in emotional storm, as in jangling of nerves, feeds a feeling of unfairness and separateness. When we are excitable, our heart races and our nervous system is buzzed. Even good excitement. Excitement is like a wind under the fire we are already experiencing…willingly or unwillingly.
Patience is a balm that soothes. It is experiencing the fire without adding the winds of excitability. Patience reminds us of God and Grace.
Sorrow will still be there, but we feed it or soothe it by how we react. Do we allow ourselves to be comforted or do we resist comfort? Do we allow our sorrow and grief to evolve into something bigger than ourselves?
Patience is a practice. Probably not best practiced during the fire, but in times of calm. In the fire, we nurture patience as best we can and trust in God; this is Faith. Trust in Jesus. Surrender in itself helps us to practice patience.
This moment in time is in many ways a time of mourning. We are mourning a way of life that we are used to. We are mourning the comforts and freedoms we are used to. We are mourning the company of the people we love and cannot be with. We feel threatened by the very nature of change and instability. Excitability encourages us to focus on this threat aspect and our body and mind and heart responds with deeper stress responses. Patience helps us to respond, not as a threat, but as a challenge and nurtures a less reactive stress response. Patience helps us to use experiences to allow us to grow in heart and mind and soul.
Regardless, we are going through a fire, or a storm as some people have been calling it. Yes, our experiences of it are different depending on our circumstances, but we are all going through some sort of grief and sorrow. We may think that others are not as challenged as we are or that others are more challenged that we are, and while there is truth and merit to that, if we over-focus on what separates us, we find ourselves more divided than connected (disconnect perhaps being a root problem in our society) We may find ourselves less willing to reach out or less willing to seek support.
We are all going through a time of challenge and grief, even if we do not see it. I want to share the stages of grief with you. See if any of this sounds familiar:
Stage One: Denial. This is the stage where we avoid believing what is happening is happening. We are confused and fearful.
Stage Two: Anger. This is the stage where we get frustrated and irritable and anxious.
Stage Three: Depression. We become overwhelmed and feel helpless and hostile and want to run away and hide.
Stage Four: Bargaining. This is the stage where we struggle and try to find meaning.
Stage Five: Acceptance. This is where we begin to explore new options and create new plans and begin to move on.
It might be easier to see where other people are on the journey than yourself. We will all flow through at different speeds. Sometimes, we’ll get stuck longer in one stage and struggle to get through it. That is why a practice of patience to nurture compassion is so vital (for ourselves and others).
Can you see the excitability in each stage to maneuver through? Perhaps by seeing this laid out in stages, you can find more patience with yourself and others as they/we work through each stage. Maybe we can find more compassion for others as you work through a stage and see others stuck and struggling. Maybe we can find more compassion for ourselves as we see others working through a stage we are stuck and see hope and hold to faith. God puts us in the right place at the right time with the right people for a reason. We can help and be helped.
Remember they are phases, we will get through them in our own time. We can meet them willingly or unwillingly, but we will go through each of them. We can evolve with as much Grace as possible or resist.
Either way, with intentional patience or reluctant patience, we will be comforted. Patience allows us to be comforted sooner. Patience allows us to become compassionate comforters sooner. Patience soothes the body and soul.
Blessed are the sorrowful; they shall find consolation. Matthew 5:4
God, give us more patience and more endurance to bear these challenges cheerfully. Offer to us the strength we need to stand firm and help us us to reach out and accept this strength, so we can help those around us to stand firm. Amen. (adapted from Easwaran).